Plan Brings Clean Water to Malawian Residents
Every day in the Kamtsizi and Mazaza villages, of Njewa, Malawi, families turn on taps at shared water points and out flows clean, fresh water for drinking, cooking, washing, and bathing. This may seem unremarkable, but not too long ago, this wasn’t the case.
For years, residents of these two villages had been using contaminated water from unprotected sources such as streams and dambos, the Malawian name for wetlands. This water would be used for cooking and drinking.
“We suffered from recurrent bouts of diarrhea due to lack of safe water and proper sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices,” says Henderson Mbendera, secretary for the Kamtsizi-Mazaza Village Health Committee.
The Benefits of Clean Water
The risk of contracting diarrhea and other waterborne diseases is now a thing of the past. The change is the result of the installation of a solar-powered safe water supply system. The system, installed by Plan in 2012, was constructed to address water and sanitation issues.
“I have pure drinking water, I use the latrine, and hand washing has become a habit. So now I can go to school and study without getting sick,” says 9-year-old Vincent Roberts. “In the past, I missed classes often due to frequent stomach aches,” he adds.
Expanding the Water Service to Neighboring Villages
The water supply system installed alongside several water points, initially served Kamtsizi and Mazaza. Since its installation, the service has also been extended to serve neighboring villages.
“People from neighboring villages come to draw water from this point, especially when they can’t get water from taps in their own communities,” Henderson explains as other villagers gather around the water points.
Community members including the neighbors make monthly contributions which goes toward water tank maintenance. Community members are also responsible for maintaining the taps when they break down.
“We have water and we need to take care of it,” says Henderson.
”Ministry of Water officers have trained the residents on how they can maintain the water taps,” says Richman Kalua. Kalua serves as Plan’s National Coordinator for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Programs.
“Each time we are implementing a water project in a community, we engage the Ministry of Water to help in supervising the work and in training water users on how to carry out maintenance works,” says Kalua.
Plan Malawi intends to expand the system to serve more people within the neighboring villages. Currently, the water points serve close to 300 people in the 2 villages combined. However, the facility has the capacity of serving an average of 7 villages.
“We intend to make safe drinking water accessible to more people in the coming years. Our partnership with the Ministry of Water is key to ensuring that we achieve this goal,” says Kalua.